I am done with Mom Guilt.
I am done with feeling obligated to feel bad.
Mom Guilt insinuates that I have done something wrong. And I can assure you, that in my 9 years of mothering, I have never once purposefully fallen short. Fallen short…for sure. But not for lack of trying.
Some days I really nail it. It looks like Pinterest-inspired photoshoots. It looks like crafting with extra glitter. It looks like saying yes to some hair-brained idea like ordering what the person in front of us ordered at Dunkin’ Donuts and ending up with a $10 milkshake no one wants. Some days I close the door to their rooms, after kissing their heaven-scented heads, and I think–well done, you.
But some days end in tears. Sometimes I feed them fast food multiple nights in a row, the clothes are wrinkled from hanging in the basket too long and I snap at them for taking too long…too long to walk, too long to eat, too long to go to sleep. Sometimes motherhood can feel like one long waiting game.
And then, sometimes, I make decisions like I did last week. I decided to pursue a job that will take me away from my girls more than ever. I decided to put my youngest in daycare despite the fact that I didn’t have to right now. It was a once in a blue moon kind of opportunity–and I took it. And I don’t feel bad.
I don’t have time to feel bad. I will be rising at 5:30, ushering two girls out the door by 6:45. I will be checking backpacks and filling bottles and setting the crockpot and forgetting the clothes in the washing machine for far too long. I will be volunteering in the classroom but I will also be missing field trips. I will be cheering on the soccer field but there is a good chance I will forget the snacks.
And here is why I am done with the guilt: because these memories matter, too.
Somewhere along the line, the idea of memory making became about filling a grid with pretty pictures. But the purpose of creating memories for our children serves a far more important purpose. Their memories become their touchstone. They become the place they draw from when making their own life choices, when choosing their own spouse, when rearing their own children.
So, its equally important for my girls to see me making the tough call. To see me taking my seat at the table. To see that the degree on the wall is put to use–because that’s what fills MY cup. If I was wholly satisfied by being home full-time—and trust me, it’s the hardest job I have ever had–then it would be equally as important for them to see me fulfilled in that way.
Raising my girls has made me more cognizant than ever of the way I live my life. I want them to have memories of a mom who sometimes ignores the dishes to read a book, who wears the bathing suit despite the roundness left behind from pregnancy, who doesn’t skip grandma’s dessert. Equally, I want them to see me running a few times a week because it does wonders for my mental health, I want them to see me racing out the door for a night out with my girlfriends, I want them to see me date their Daddy.
Of course, there will be tears the first day of daycare. There will be disappointment at missed celebrations and frustration over burnt dinners. But I am making a concerted effort to avoid allowing these pitfalls to become marks on my perception of myself as a mother. I don’t fault my daughter for a bad spelling test grade. I don’t keep track of how many times my husband chooses to golf on a Saturday morning. I am treating myself with the same kindness–and room for wholeness–as the ones I love most.
Mom guilt has no space in a life well lived. I refuse to filter my experience through ideals I cannot obtain–and quite frankly, don’t want to. I cannot feel bad for doing my best and I won’t teach my girls to feel bad, either.